27 Best Songs From 1978

When talking about the top songs from 1978, disco and punk feature prominently. That’s not to say there wasn’t hits from other genres in this year though.

Here are some examples of the variety encompassed by 1978’s most successful songs, from jazz to pop to disco.

“Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb

You can’t talk about good music from 1978 without discussing disco music.

Gibb and his brothers composed “Shadow Dancing” while filming Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club. They wanted a relaxing way to spend their downtime, so started collaborating on a song. Ten minutes later, the chorus of “Shadow Dancing” was born.

The song was part of an album by the same name, and it was top of the charts for seven weeks. It wasn’t Gibb’s only 1978 success in North America, but it was the last one to climb to the top of a Billboard chart.

“Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees

Few groups are as synonymous with the seventies as The Bee Gees, and “Stayin’ Alive” was their biggest hit.

One reason it was instantly recognizable was that it was the song that introduced Saturday Night Fever every week.

“Kiss You All Over” by Exile

“Kiss You All Over” debuted on Exile’s third album. Jimmy Stockley was the lead vocalist, and it was his last album with the band. By 1979, Stockley was out of the band and in increasingly poor health.

The other notable thing about “Kiss You All Over” is that it signposts the shift by Exile from the soft rock singles that brought them such musical success to country music.

“Last Dance” by Donna Summer

“Last Dance” started as a crucial musical cue for Thank God It’s Friday. But it wasn’t only a triumph within the context of the film.

“Last Dance” achieved tremendous critical acclaim, including:

  • Academy Award for Best Original Song
  •  Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song
  •  Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Performance

“Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon

Another of the best songs of 1978 began as a joke between friends. After watching a 1930s horror film, Phil Everly whimsically suggested Zevlon use the title as inspiration for his next song.

The film was Werewolves of London, and the joke was quickly on Zevlon and Everly. Zevon and friends wrote the song in 15 minutes but never took it seriously. Jackson Browne did and started performing “Werewolves” in concerts. It was an immediate success.

So, Zevon recorded the song for his third album, Excitable Boy. It featured members of Fleetwood Mac on the drums and bass and consumed much of the album’s budget. But it sat on the Top 40 charts of 1978 for over a month, making the agony of recording worthwhile.

“You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone

“You Light Up My Life” was another of the best songs of 1978. It’s a ballad song and first appeared in a film by the same name. The film and the singer who performed it both enjoyed success, but it paled in comparison to Debby Boone’s cover.

As sung by Boone, “You Light Up My Life” sat at the top of the charts for ten weeks, outperforming:

  • “Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley
  • “Mack The Knife” by Bobby Darrin
  • Theme from A Summer Night by Percy Faith

“Three Times a Lady” by The Commodores

Soul was also part of what constituted good music from 1978. The Commodores' “Three Times A Lady” is an excellent example.

It gave The Commodores their first hit and sat at the top of several charts for two weeks. It also has the distinction of being the first Mowton hit to reach the top of America’s Billboard 100.

“Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey

As discussed, disco featured heavily in shaping the landscape of good music from 1978.

“Boogie Oogie Oogie” is another disco success from that year. It appeared on A Taste of Honey’s first album in the summer of 1978 and was immediately popular.

Part of its success hinged on “Boogie Oogie Oogie” as more than a disco song. It also incorporated musical conventions from pop and soul, ensuring there was something for all listeners to enjoy.

“You’re the One That I Want” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

Another 1978 musical sensation was the musical Grease. Proving this, “You’re the One That I Want” as sung by Travolta and Newton-John on the soundtrack album wasn’t just one of the best songs of 1978. It’s also one of the best-selling singles in history.

It’s estimated more than 15 million copies of the album have been sold, and people are still listening.

“Grease” by Frankie Vali

Many of the best songs from 1978 came from the musical Grease. To list all of them is impossible, but the titular song deserves mentioning.

When Frankie Vali’s single “Grease” debuted, it sold over seven million copies. It appeared twice on the soundtrack album, despite never appearing in the film.

But that didn’t stop people from loving the song. Radios couldn’t get enough of it, and judging by the copies the single sold, neither could anyone else.

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